With the recent resurgence of retro FPS titles in the last few years, I’ve found myself diving down the never-ending rabbit hole of fantastic interpretations, adaptions and downright innovations the genre has to offer. One such title is Coven, developed by Ethan Appleby (@imaenith) and Phil (@pheel125) which managed to keep me entertained for hours on end despite it only being a short 30ish minute demo.
With an already established interest in the title, I reached out to Ethan with a few questions to help gauge what sort of developments we could hope to see from Coven in the future.
Can you give me a bit of info about yourself and your background?
I studied video game design at Leeds Met nearly 10 years ago now. Though to be fair I’ve learned most aspects of game development outside of education. Mostly just spending a lot of my spare time plugging away in Unity. Also, I’ve worked at Tarsier Studios full time for the last 3 years doing QA which has been a lot of fun.
When did you initially get into game design?
I guess when I discovered the scenario editor for Ages of Empires II. In the early 2000’s I used to make maps for Quake 2, Doom and Jedi Knight 2. It has always been what I’ve wanted to do from a very young age.
When creating the initial demo for Coven what major inspirations did you have in mind both in terms of gameplay and setting?
Gameplay inspiration mainly came from Quake, Blood and Brutal Doom. I enjoy playing fast paced old school FPS games so I thought I may as well work on something I thoroughly enjoy. In terms of setting I’ve always been fascinated with the occult as well as the witch hunts that took place in Europe and America around the 1400-1600’s. I found that it would make for a good setting as well as being good motivation for the player to want revenge. Though the game isn’t completely historically accurate, what with the player being resurrected as a witch and wielding a double barrelled shotgun. I guess I’ll throw Thief: The Dark Project in there as well, I’m absolutely in love with the vibe that game has, so it’s been a big inspiration.
Are there any creators in the current indie scene that you would consider inspirations not only for Coven but for game design in general?
The developer behind DUSK, David Szymanski for sure. Making a game as incredible as DUSK pretty much by himself was a massive inspiration when I started this project back up. Also the boomer shooter community is generally pretty fantastic, seeing other people working on their own retro FPS titles inspires me for sure. For example off the top of my head… @SharpRocksGames, @scriptslash, @Awesreek and @Plasmeo are all making some really cool stuff.
How have you found the overall reception to Coven and its demo?
It’s been overwhelmingly positive and it’s what keeps me going to be honest. I’ve also gotten a ton of great feedback which has helped me tweak the gameplay. It’s the first game I’ve released to the public and just getting comments from people who have enjoyed it is incredible.
What plans have you for future updates on the title?
More weapons, more enemy types, more levels, more gore. Recently a friend joined me working on the project so things are starting to pick up pace.
If you’d like to give Coven a go yourself you can check out the demo on both itch.io and Steam. You can also wishlist the title over on Steam as the current planned release date is 2022. If you’d like to keep up to date with all of our upcoming reviews, news, and features here at Gaming Sandbox, feel free to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. If you’d like to support us financially you can do so by following the link to our Patreon!